As major league baseball season gets fully underway, I think briefly of the greatest sport’s stats-consciousness. There are stats, and meta-stats, and stats upon meta-stats. This feature of baseball can at once be endearing and irritating — sort of like color-commentators.
Some of the stats are silly, like “first player ever wearing the number 40 to weigh 40 pounds more than he weighted in his rookie year, while stealing 40 bases in a season.” Others log bona fide accomplishments, like “hitting for the cycle,” batting over .300 for ten seasons in a row, pitching a no-hitter, committing no errors in an entire season, or winning the Triple Crown (for leading a league in batting average, hits, HRs, and RBIs). Another type of stat in baseball is the milestone — e.g., getting 3,000 hits, or 200 wins by pitchers.
Speaking of stats . . . as I prepare to touch my toe to the 1000-blogpost milestone, I take a moment. A moment to think about the last five years — with 95% of the posts in the last four years, since the life-changing birth of our son. I’ve probably spent more time than I should have on blogging, and yet there have been times that I would have dried up emotionally and spiritually without this outlet. I’m thankful for it.
I think of the countless edits — even the compulsive error-correction, that no one will ever know of, sometimes accomplished long after the publication of a post. I think of the handy WordPress app on my smartphone, allowing me to make minor edits and even write short posts there, if I choose. I think of the posts shared with others — those that have drawn new e-acquaintances, those that have challenged or annoyed friends whose faces I know, and those (probably most!) that have not been read by all that many folks. I think of the patient interest of my wife, who regularly reads and listens to so many thoughts from this blog. By the way, I’ve recently updated my brief bio/profile; if you’re interested in that, go here.
I think of the main thrusts of these ‘blogged public writings. Of course there have been other therapeutic pieces that never were posted or shared with anyone, and one post back there somewhere is password-protected, because I ended up wanting not to share my very intense thoughts that day. (This is one reason I assigned the numbers 999a and 999b — because there’s actually one of the 1000 that no one can get to.)
Most of my writing has been in three areas of focus, to which I remain committed:
1. Christian Reform & Restoration
(categories: American Restoration Movement (Stone-Campbell), Biblical (or abiblical doctrine), Assembly, Church tradition and practice (and the church values series), Voices, Clergy-laity system, Leadership, Christian living
Toward these worthy goals, I often challenge the status quo. I do not always do this well, but I do it with persistent conviction. I write about the church groups I visit for various reasons, and I write about the churches of my past. I write about things I hear from others who have been weaned on other traditions. I’m invigorated by writing about restoration of the ancient order. I’m periodically intrigued, or intolerant, or even incensed, always inclined to think out loud independently . . . but I’m never infallible.
I write about doctrines that make sense, some that don’t make sense, and some that make partial sense. I write about denominations, certainly including the one of my own heritage, but I’m more interested than ever in nondenominational Christianity. I write about Calvinism and Romanism, which I consider involve many adulterations and hyperbolic excesses, although there are vestiges of truth in many places. Like my son here, I believe pretty much everything deserves scrutiny and challenge for the sake of getting a better handle on it . . . and I think truth always outlasts honest investigation.
And I write about Christian practice — both in the assembly and out. What Christian groups do when they are together can be the source of humor, inspiration, and frustration. The “Christian living” category deals some in repentant hindsight, in encouragement of purposeful living, and in general musings about trying to follow along as a disciple of Jesus.
2. Worship and the Assembly
(categories: Worship, Monday music, Hymns & church music, prayer)
In support of the everlasting aspirations of worship, I have offered, for instance, the Monday Music quasi-series: to date, 67 entries in this series, but approximately half of the total output here has had some relationship to worship, prayer, and/or the assembly of Christians. (Historically, aspects of both “worship” and “assembly” have been termed “the service.” As I have written multiple times, I earnestly believe the label “service” is a hindering misnomer, when speaking of any of these things: private or public worship, the Christian assembly or gathering, or even “liturgy.”)
I’ve written less about the deeper concepts of worship than I would have expected, and I think this avoidance stems from having personally dwelt in worship less than in several other phases of life. Prayer has received only a modicum of focus, too; this is probably directly related to the fact that I often find prayer to be an inertia-stymied task.
3. Biblical Studies
(categories: Scripture [and all its book-level subcategories])
I have devoted much time to transcribing notes from group studies I have prepared, and to sharing notes from respected teachers and commentators. I have also focused largely on exegesis. It was no accident that one of the final posts leading up to #1000 was on exegesis. I believe that scripture-grounded Christianity is the only valid kind of Christianity — not for the purpose of worshiping the Bible, of course. The Bible is not an end itself, but in studying the ancient, well-attested writings, one uncovers more of God’s intent for the early Christian community. I grew up in a Bible-oriented congregation, and all but one church I’ve ever been a part of has paid serious attention to the scriptures on some level . . . but I now find most of the “Bible study” of my past to have been lacking in depth. I advocate deeper, more intentional study, and I want to be both contextually responsible and devoted in my approach to biblical documents.
Yes, there are other areas I’ve dealt in besides the above three — e.g., government and Christianity, and various rants about things like cell phone laws and the misplaced apostrophes of the world. I do have other interests and once even misused some summer hours devising a tongue-in-cheek “Shelter” for all my pet peeves. But the things that are most important to me have gotten the most attention. I like to call the important-stuff umbrella “Things of the Lord” or “Kingdom Matters.” Not only my blog categories and tags, but also my thoughts and my filing systems (although not my consistent life patterns) generally reflect this priority.
God helping me, I will continue to 1) challenge the ways humans have messed up God’s intent for the Christian Way. And I will continue to 2) pursue the One God and His true worship. And I will continue to 3) study the scriptures seriously.
Special note: in the next post, public post #1000, I’m going to attempt to bring these three, overarching topical areas together in one, and then I’m going to take somewhat of a break. Regular readers will hear from me less often; for a while, any bloggings will probably be either historical re-diggings or brief thoughts.